Araceli González Carballo was born in Lugo in 1914. In 1938 she met Juan Pujol in Burgos. They married in Madrid after the end of the Spanish Civil War.
Once World War II broke out, they collaborated to establish contact with the Allied forces to offer them information against the Nazis. Araceli’s participation was crucial for making and maintaining contact with some German agents and fundamental for the British and the Americans. First they worked from Madrid; after, from Lisbon.
During those critical moments in which risks seemed to increase and doubts grew, Araceli’s audacity secured the trust of the Allies. By November 1941, Araceli and Juan were at a crossroads: They were located in Lisbon, from where he was sending his misleading information to the Nazis, making them believe that he lived in England. However, all the work was at risk of being for naught if they had to continue without support from the Allies. Even worse, they were also at risk of being discovered.
They needed the contact and support of the British, who in repeated interviews refused the services that Juan offered them.
An Essential Initiative
When all the doors seem closed -they even came close to making plans to travel to Brazil- it was Araceli who took the initiative to go to the American embassy in Lisbon and press on until she managed to be heard and believed. By then, MI5 was already aware of the existence of an informant for the Germans named Alaric who they needed to locate. Araceli was the one who gave them proof that the man they were looking for was her husband and that he was not in London but right there in Lisbon.
Their work, now under the orders of MI5, continued. Juan traveled to London first, followed soon after by Araceli and their son Juan. At this time, Araceli was pregnant with Jorge, who was born in August 1942.
Araceli’s life in bombed out London was extremely difficult. Apart from working on the responsibilities related to the task that had brought them there, she was forced to remain isolated and separated from her husband most of the time. It was so difficult that she demanded, without success, that she be permitted to return to Spain with her children.
Near the end of the war, she convinced them, with the intervention of Churchill himself, to allow her to travel back to Lugo and reunite with her mother and brothers.
With the Allied victory, Spain was no longer a safe place for them. So they considered the possibility of moving to several Latin American destinations to settle down and rebuild their life together. In the end, they decided on Venezuela, to which they traveled at the end of 1945.
In 1948, three months after the birth of her daughter María Eugenia, Araceli left Venezuela forever and returned by ship to Spain with her three children.
She traveled first to Lugo and later to Madrid, where she settled down.
In 1957 she married Edward Kreisler, an American businessman, with whom she founded the Kreisler Art Gallery, in 1966 in Madrid.
For more than three decades, she maintained, in the face of everyone, even her children, a resounding and loyal silence about the identity of Juan Pujol and their history in common. Through that imposed amnesia, she imbued her children with the belief, without flat-out stating it, that Juan Pujol was not alive; his name was only mentioned in the family home on very rare occasions.
In 1984, Garbo appeared in all the British and Spanish newspapers and on different European television networks, presented as a hero of the Second World War.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, upon the 40th anniversary of the Normandy Landing, publicly paid tribute to Joan Pujol, aka Garbo. And so, Juan left behind anonymity, the silence in which he had taken refuge since the end of the Second World War. The news caused deep surprise and shock within Araceli’s family at first. A few weeks later, she would summon all her family to her home in Madrid, for a meeting in which they shared the joy of the moment , where Juan was able to embrace his sons and daughter again and meet his grandson and granddaughters. Edward Kreisler also participated in that reception.
In Madrid, on March 6, 1990, Araceli died of a stroke. She is buried in the Sacramental Cemetery of San Isidro in Madrid.